Transcript for Season 1, Episode 9: Lisa Hinkelman
Annalies Corbin: [00:00:00] Welcome to today’s episode of Learning Unboxed. I’m excited to introduce all of our listeners to an amazing lady that I’ve had the privilege of knowing for a decade or more. Our journeys kind of started together a little bit.
Annalies Corbin: [00:00:19] So, joining us today is Dr. Lisa Hinkelman. She is chief everything, tied to an amazing organization called Ruling Our Experience. She is the founder and CEO of programs often referred to as ROX. And Lisa’s background is as an educator, a counselor, a researcher, an author, an advocate, a mentor, a creative thinker, a community changer, an amazing entrepreneur, and change agent. And I am so thrilled, Lisa, to have you join me today.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:00:58] That was the most amazing introduction I’ve ever received in my entire life. So, wow. Thank you. I am beyond honored to be here and excited for our conversation.
Annalies Corbin: [00:01:10] Excellent. So, a little bit of context. As I said, I’ve known Lisa for a number of years. And I think the way we met, actually, is very relevant to the conversation that we are about to have today. And back, for folks who might not have gone all the way through the series, these conversations are about teaching, learning, and the future of work, and the way that, as a community of practitioners across the vast space that pulls our future together, that there are a lot of folks out there doing really, really amazing work across the sectors. And as practitioners on the ground day to day in schools, working with kids, really getting folks ready to be the next great citizens in our world, that there’s work out there that you need to know about that are great case studies that can inform your practice and your decision making on the local level.
Annalies Corbin: [00:02:09] And, certainly, the work that Lisa’s doing in ROX is part of that. Lisa and I first met as grant recipients at something called the Women’s Fund, which is global, but also has local flavors. And so, we both put in proposals to do programming tied to girls and moving girls into a variety of different ways. Ours was around forensics, and forensic sciences, and getting more girls into some applied space. And Lisa’s was tied to this amazing program she’s built called ROX.
Annalies Corbin: [00:02:42] And so, that journey meant that we got to intertwine over the course of our grant year. We got to learn from each other and to really think about community and impact. And so, that, sort of, sets the stage for for getting to watch the program grow.
Annalies Corbin: [00:02:55] So, Lisa, let’s just roll up our sleeves and launch in. So, first and foremost, what the heck is ROX? And why or what were you thinking? I mean, starting a new organization is really hard. We did an entire episode about startup and what it means to be in the education space or thinking and startup. And it’s not easy. So, how and why?
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:03:17] Well, I think that ROX is an organization that was never supposed to be an organization. It started in 2006. I was a professor of Counselor Education at Ohio State and working a lot with girls in school and community settings. And I realized really quickly that there is no one really addressing comprehensively the issues that are impacting girls: these drops in confidence, and their challenges in relationships with one another, and their limited aspirations about what they can become.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:03:51] And I realized that all these things are tied together. They’re not disparate ideas that are impacting girls. They’re connected based on the the world view, and the lens, and the messaging that girls are getting that are telling them that this is what girls are supposed to be like, this is what they’re supposed to look like, these are the kinds of things they’re supposed to be doing, and these are the careers they’re supposed to pursue. And I feel like those messages are so restricting.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:04:17] And so, I decided like, let’s create a program. Let’s create a research study to learn about how we can help girls shift their ideas of themselves, shift their skills, and abilities, and competencies, so that they can navigate these challenges that they’ll face differently.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:04:34] And so, we put a research team together and started a pilot program in three Columbus City schools and collected data, pre and post. And then, we took that data, and modified the lessons and the curriculum, and kept doing that for five years. And so. this incubation period allowed the program to grow to more than 20 schools, but then also learn like, “Oh, there’s some things that we can be doing better in this world for girls and in this program for girls.”
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:05:02] And so, it was the part of my job that was giving me the most energy. And in 2011, we decided to make the jump and incorporate as a 501(c)(3). And so, ROX, now, is a national nonprofit. We train and license school counselors, social workers, and educators to deliver a 20-week, evidence-based program in schools with girls that really focuses on a lot of the issues I just mentioned, as well as even more: healthy relationships, dating violence, sexual violence prevention, academic and career development leadership, all those big spaces.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:05:37] Then, we also do national research with girls. And so, we completed a survey of almost 11,000 girls called the Girls’ Index that we are disseminating widely to allow the adult influencers in girls’ lives to be able to understand what’s going on for them, but then, also work with them, support them, communicate with them differently.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:06:00] And the last piece of of our work at ROX is how do we adequately hit those people who have the most influence over girls? And we see that as their parents, as their educators. And, for us, it’s how do we create learning modules for them to be able to connect with work, with support, empower girls and in a more comprehensive way?
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:06:22] So, while we’ve kind of evolved into this national or emerging national organization, the idea of becoming a nonprofit executive or a CEO was never in my game plan. I am a counselor. I’m an educator. I’m all good in that space. But starting a nonprofit was like, I don’t even know where to begin.
Annalies Corbin: [00:06:46] Yeah, no, I lived that with you, right?
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:06:48] Yeah.
Annalies Corbin: [00:06:49] That is never, ever the intent but, certainly, part of the journey.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:06:52] Well, because when, I think, we first met, I was still at Ohio State.
Annalies Corbin: [00:06:56] Yeah, you were. Yeah.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:06:56] We were kind of doing this thing. And when it was, sort of, like take this jump, I thought like, “Okay, let’s figure it out.”
Annalies Corbin: [00:07:03] Yeah, exactly.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:07:04] And so, I’ve been on a crash course of learning how to be a CEO, and an executive, and grow an organization, and understand nonprofit management versus social entrepreneurship, which is a whole new place for me as well. And so, you hit the ground and you just hustle. And it’s a journey, but it’s a great journey.
Annalies Corbin: [00:07:25] For sure. Yeah, a lot of learning.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:07:27] A lot of learning.
Annalies Corbin: [00:07:27] A lot of learning. Well, so I want to dig in a little bit to a few pieces and, also, sort of, share out that the research that you initially did and where and how we met, ultimately, led to an award-winning book, Girls Without Limits. And then, that then fed into getting to work with the Girls’ Index. And so, I want to just kind of dig in a little bit about how the things that you’ve learned can really be impactful as schools, teachers, families, communities thinking about transitioning environments.
Annalies Corbin: [00:08:04] And I think that’s one of the really big keys is recognizing the collective set of participants that are going to be put in the endeavor that we’re working on. We have lots and lots of conversations about folks talking about either transitioning schools, or making new schools, or creating these new programs out there that bridge school, and life, and work, and community.
Annalies Corbin: [00:08:25] And so, I see this as a real opportunity for us to be very mindful and to recognize the intent. What do we need to know, so that one piece of our participants are rising rock star girls, this body that’s so incredibly adept? What do we need to know as it relates to doing that? So, I want to start with as you, kind of, dug in, what are the top two or three things that you learned that changed the way you think about the importance of these questions?
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:09:01] I think that when we think about the issues impacting girls in schools, there’s an element of the academic pursuit and the way that we do education in our country that focuses first on academic outcomes and second on everything else that a kid is. We know that to create effective adults, and great citizens, and people who are producing at their highest levels, that those nonacademic issues impact what they become, what they can do. It impacts their outcomes in these profound ways, and let-
Annalies Corbin: [00:09:39] Absolutely.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:09:39] And yeah, it’s the second thing that we talk about, or the third, or the fourth. It’s like, “Let’s get the kid a tutor. Let’s get them in the most rigorous courses. Let’s get them an ACT, an SAT.” All of the things that we focus on are academic. And we have girls who are struggling profoundly, not academically, but personally and socially.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:10:01] And so, for me, it’s, how do we can make those connections between what girls are experiencing, and how they’re viewing themselves and their opportunities, and then show how that impacts academic outcomes. And I think that when we look at girls’ confidence, it’s the primary elements that we see deteriorating between 5th and 9th grade. And when we think about confidence as a construct, it is the fundamental element that dictates all of our decision making.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:10:33] More confident people make better decisions. They make better decisions in relationships. They make better decisions in careers. They make better decisions in their academic choices. They make better decisions across the board. And when we have this confidence challenge in this crisis for girls, we are not addressing how that is impacting all of the decisions that they’re making.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:10:54] And that was one of the core fundamental elements of everyone thinks like confidence is the squishy little construct and like, “Oh, that’s so nice. Let’s talk about self-esteem. That’s really great and important,” but no one pays attention to it. And, for me, it was we have to get to the core of that human experience and shift the way that a girl experiences herself because she’s not experiencing herself the way that other people experience her.
Annalies Corbin: [00:11:23] Correct, correct. And we see that all the time. And I think this is one of those places where at the PAST Foundation, we actually, for real, tap in to Lisa’s work all the time. It is rare, for example, that — and we do a lot of STEM and experiential-based programming, a lot of pilots to try to find different ways to engage a wide array of students and people’s experiences into finding their passion for life and career.
Annalies Corbin: [00:11:55] And through that, we often will create programs specifically for girls for all the reasons that you just mentioned. We know, without qualm or question, that this sweet spot, the space that we so desperately, collectively, globally need to roll up our sleeves and live in is that 5th to 8th grade, 5th to 9th grade, that middle sort of school or middle life for those students, sort of, experience because so many things happen in that space.
Annalies Corbin: [00:12:27] And so, as we think about those implications, we see that the questions around competence, knowledge, and experience, a lot of folks get those things really, really confused. And to your point, if we don’t have a solid understanding, not only of what those things are and are not, but the implications of understanding what they are and are not, we can never build experiences or programs to help foster and build the things that we want. So, what does the work with ROX tell us about that?
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:13:04] It’s telling us that girls are tremendously competent. They’re working really hard in school, and in sports, and in their relationships. They, many times, have a desire to be perfect in all of those spaces.
Annalies Corbin: [00:13:20] And not share until it’s perfect.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:13:24] Oh sure.
Annalies Corbin: [00:13:24] There’s definitely something that as girls, as women, that is our tendency.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:13:29] Yeah. Let me just get this all right, and I have to get it right not just for me but for everybody else. I want my teachers, I want my parents, I want my friends, I want my coaches all to experience me in a certain kind of way.
Annalies Corbin: [00:13:41] Correct.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:13:42] So, we see these girls as little pressure cookers and lack the coping skills to navigate some of those biggest challenges. Simultaneously, we see that those girls with the highest achievements, the highest levels of GPA, the highest attainment, are often the ones who feel the least competent, even though they’re demonstrating competence on a daily basis.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:14:04] And, I mean, one of the stats that continually blows me away and when I speak about it is that we found in our research that the girls with the highest grade point averages, 4.0 or above, 30% of those didn’t think they were smart enough for their dream job. And that category of girls was the least likely to say what they’re thinking or disagree with others because they want to be liked.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:14:26] And so, tangled up in all of that academic achievement are these girls who are struggling profoundly, that aren’t getting ancillary services, that we’re not paying attention to because we’re like, “Oh, look, she’s got it all together.”
Annalies Corbin: [00:14:39] She’s fine.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:14:40] She’s fine.
Annalies Corbin: [00:14:41] She’s fine.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:14:42] Yeah.
Annalies Corbin: [00:14:42] And I see examples of that at the Innovation Lab because as a prototyping facility, we have kids in with us all the time. And we are very fortunate that we have many of these kids with us over a course of multiple years. We’re not a school. And so, kids don’t come and interact with us like they do in a school. But we get to go on journeys with them.
Annalies Corbin: [00:15:06] And what I can tell you without having to think about it, multiple times, as you’re speaking, I can see particular faces popping into my mind’s eye. And these, to a one, fit the exact description that you provided. Amazing, amazing talents, competent, smart, just off the charts, capable. And I can watch them start to fall apart because of the pressures, largely, that they put on themselves. But I would also argue that a lot of the pressure that happens comes because we’ve not yet built the right environment to foster all the other pieces.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:15:48] Absolutely. And I think the concept that we didn’t talk about directly is self-efficacy. It’s that you can have the highest levels of intelligence, but if you don’t have the belief in your own ability, then you’re going to underperform. And so, we know that self-efficacy is like that internalized belief that “I can actually do this” makes an independent contribution to the outcomes academically and in all these other facets of one’s life. But it tends to not be the thing that we really want to get in and dig in on.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:16:19] But even when we look at like large-scale educational research, self-efficacy beliefs outperform homework. They outperform class size. They outperform all of these other tenants of like what makes education work for kids. And those self-beliefs are one of the highest predictors of academic outcomes.
Annalies Corbin: [00:16:42] Right. And I think that it’s really intriguing because the flip side of that, and as we think about teachers, schools, communities, families that are thinking about how can we take the amazing data that’s in the Girls’ Index and, actually, apply it as we are at that big giant whiteboard space, and saying we’re going to design something new, one of the things that I think I always sort of push folks to come back to is that we have to be really, really mindful of the environment that you’re trying to build.
Annalies Corbin: [00:17:15] And I don’t just mean the physical space, but all the interplay spaces as well. And so, for the kids that I watch, and we’re surrounded by kids struggling through this very journey that you’re talking about, and some get to the back side, and they have a very different set of struggles or successes than the kids standing right next to them. And to your point, it’s because of so many of these factors.
Annalies Corbin: [00:17:38] When I’m able to dig in with those kids who, on the backside of it, are so excited to launch into the next stage of their life, I think that one of the commonalities was a collaborative, supportive environment that taught them or showed them how.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:17:53] Oh, absolutely. And I think the environment that you construct and the safety of that environment allows people to be vulnerable. And vulnerability is sometimes where we grow. It’s very hard to take a risk in a space to try something new that you’ve never done before. If you think you’re going to be made fun of, if you think you may be kicked out of the club, if everyone’s going to laugh and snicker, if all that’s going to happen, like I will just keep my mouth shut and not even try because dealing with all of that is actually a little harder than me trying something new.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:18:28] And so, that’s why we find putting girls in all-girls spaces can reduce some of that environmental pressure. But then, it’s not just putting them in a room and saying, like, “We’re all girls, we should all support each other,” because that doesn’t happen either.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:18:42] But if we intentionally construct these spaces with expectations of behavior, with shared ownership of the environment, with, “This is how we’re going to treat each other here. These are kind of the rules and expectations that we all get to contribute to,” then it’s like we know that taking a risk or trying something new, putting myself out there, I don’t have to have the fear associated with that because if I bum and I just mess it up completely, I’ve got these people that are going to support me, and help me learn from it, and grow from it, so that I can try it again. Because the more I can try it in this safe environment, the easier it’s going to be for me when I have to do it out there in the real world, or in a less safe environment, or in a classroom that has me quite intimidated.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:19:29] And we still know that girls raise their hands less in class. We know that girls get called on less by teachers. And some of this is connected to their own sense of self and their voice. And one of the other pieces that connects to this as well is nearly half of girls say that they don’t say what they’re thinking or disagree with others because they want to be liked. And that whole needing to be okay is one of the elements that we have to create an environment to undo a bit. It’s that it’s okay for me to state my voice or state my opinion, and you’re still going to like me after that.
Annalies Corbin: [00:20:06] Right, right. And I think that that’s a scaffolded environment. And that’s one of the things that I love, quite frankly, about the ROX program is because, on the one hand, it creates an environment that allows girls to experience and grow those skills. But the other thing that it also does is it actually scaffolds some skills through its process.
Annalies Corbin: [00:20:25] So, can we touch base a little bit about that? What exactly does the ROX program and some components of it that ideally — and I will fully advocate for this that every school, every education or community endeavor across the globe should take on the ROX program, and make it part of the fabric of who they are because it makes the foundational components of anything that they do, I think, better and more self-aware. So, what are some of those nuts and bolts of that program that you think that are the key components to setting the foundation? Because I do think it’s foundational.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:21:04] I think that one of the elements that we find critical is a small group delivery model. It’s a very different experience to have 10 or 12 girls together in a group for an extended period of time. Our program is 20 weeks. So, we don’t just like throw a bunch of girls in a room, do a big assembly and say, like, “Go change the world,” because that doesn’t work.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:21:26] So, I do think that that small group implementation by a professional. So, I think that that person who is trying to create this environment, as well as these cognitive and behavioral shifts, needs to have a foundational understanding of not just being an advocate for girls, but understanding how girls learn, understanding how girls change behaviors, how girls try out new things.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:21:53] And so, for ROX, we only train people who have degrees and licenses and counseling and education. But then, I also think it’s the content that has to be relevant for the girls. And, so often, adults decide what that content should be.
Annalies Corbin: [00:22:11] The content is, yeah.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:22:11] And we were like, “Well, we were girls once. So, we know what they need.” And they’re like, “Ew, you are like-”
Annalies Corbin: [00:22:16] Are old.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:22:16] “You are old.”
Annalies Corbin: [00:22:18] You’re old.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:22:18] You aren’t girls. You don’t know. You have no idea what life is like right now. And the reality is we don’t, right.
Annalies Corbin: [00:22:23] Don’t.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:22:24] And I think, so often, the adults in girls’ lives want to convince them that we’re cool, and we’re relevant, and that is worse, right?
Annalies Corbin: [00:22:33] Right, absolutely.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:22:35] And so, I think one of the pieces is talking to the girls about what they need and what their experiences are because they are the experts on their own life. They’re living it, they’re going through it. And instead of trying to convince them that we get it, having them invite us into that space, I think, is one of the key elements.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:22:55] And even though we have a sense of, conceptually, what we want them to get to, or the skills that we want them to learn, the way that that happens needs to be responsive to their experiences and relevant to their lives.
Annalies Corbin: [00:23:08] Yeah. No, absolutely. And we have seen time and time again, the most powerful programs are the programs that the students actually had a hand in co-creating, or, at minimum, if they can’t be part of the creation, they had the opportunity to modify them to fit the need. And that’s a powerful experience all the way around.
Annalies Corbin: [00:23:29] So, as you think about the scaffolding of those foundational skills, and, again, I’m going to keep coming back to this because I see it manifest itself over and over again when I watch. And, again, preface that there are really amazing work that’s happening out there, great programs that are happening in terms of opportunities for students, but there’s an awful lot of what I would like to think of as, sort of, epic near misses.
Annalies Corbin: [00:23:58] And if you really dig in to why a program, an effort, an initiative, a transformative experience for students fails, oftentimes, what you’ll find is the foundational pieces for success were not there. And the girls who go through the ROX program, they come out of the backside of that 20 weeks. To say that they’re empowered, I think, is not giving it enough credit. But that’s a term that we all recognize that folks are standing there feeling ready. That translates into the decision making, and the opportunity, and the ability to recognize an opportunity. And I think that’s the other piece because that’s the other one that we often see that kids don’t opt in. And why don’t they opt in is a very different reason for girls than it is for boys.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:24:51] Oh, absolutely. I think that for girls, they define themselves in relation to others. We grow up learning to be interdependent instead of independent. And so, being part of a group is really important to girls, to most girls, in different kinds of ways than it can be for boys. But it’s also the way that girls are mean to each other, right?
Annalies Corbin: [00:25:17] Right. Oh, yeah.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:25:17] They use their relationships with each other to be aggressive with each other. And that whole relational aggressive piece is like, who is going to be in this group? Are these my people? I don’t know. Do I fit in? And setting that element of safety and expectation with girls who might not be friends with each other, who might be in completely different clicks, but to cultivate an environment of learning is a key strategy and a competency of the educators who are working with them.
Annalies Corbin: [00:25:47] So, how do you do that? And how do you translate? Because that is the absolute heart and soul of how what you’ve learned through your work translates into every day in a classroom that is integrated or maybe is gender-specific depending on the school. But the reality of it is, at the end of the day, that practitioner has to achieve that same goal in the ecosystem that is theirs.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:26:12] Absolutely.
Annalies Corbin: [00:26:13] How do they do that?
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:26:14] I think, and I will say this again, I think, the first element is classroom safety. And it’s not something that teachers pay a lot of attention to in the sense of-
Annalies Corbin: [00:26:22] Define that for our listeners because everybody is going to have a completely different take on that idea.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:26:27] Yeah. I don’t mean classroom safety from a violence perspective. I mean, an environment that is safe for students to take risks and try out new behaviors. And that’s all students. Boys and girls both want classroom safety. And that can be cultivated in a co-gender environment. That does not like we only have to have an all-girls space to create that.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:26:52] But there’s another piece around expectations that teachers, and educators, and everybody has about what girls and boys should be. And girls do hear a lot of. “These are tasks for girls and these are tasks for boys.”
Annalies Corbin: [00:27:07] Absolutely, absolutely.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:27:08] In our research, there is one school, in particular, that something had happened recently, and all these girls had written on their surveys, “Can you please tell Mr. Such and So that girls can carry heavy things too because he would apparently walk into a room and say, ‘I need three strong boys to come help me with these boxes.'” And when I tell that story to groups of teachers, they all laugh and chuckle, but they know they do that too.
Annalies Corbin: [00:27:34] Absolutely, absolutely. You see it every single day.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:27:37] All the time.
Annalies Corbin: [00:27:37] And when you call someone on, oftentimes, responds, “I didn’t even realize I was doing that.” And that’s fair, fair for us to recognize we don’t know that we have completely internalized that cultural aspect of who we are.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:27:49] For sure, or we don’t give girls option of spaces where they might get dirty because we think we’re doing them a favor, but we’re really making the decision for them. And I think that’s sometimes just our language in environmental spaces about how we talk about girls or how we expect them to behave because there is also this like, “Oh my gosh, these girls are so dramatic.” And it’s just girls being girls. And it’s so hard to work with all of these girls.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:28:19] And I think that, sometimes, we internalize that this is how girls are, and this is how girls communicate, and this is the future of what is in store for girls. And instead of saying, “Wait,” like these communication styles are taught and learned.
Annalies Corbin: [00:28:35] And learned, absolutely, yeah.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:28:37] And these relationship skills are taught and learned. And instead of seeing this as like a character deficit, we saw it as a skill deficit. We would focus entirely differently-
Annalies Corbin: [00:28:47] Different.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:28:48] … on how we help build those relationships and environments that are pro-girl. And from an educator’s perspective, it’s how does the language that you use, how does the environment that you cultivate, and how does the experience of each of those students in that space contribute to stereotypical behavior, or gender norms or gender roles, or how does it give all of the students the chance to push back?
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:29:14] Because let’s be honest, right now, it’s pretty hard for boys to push out of their expected gender roles too. And it’s like we’re holding everybody back by perpetuating. And I think that it’s not just like, “Well, I tell girls that they can be anything that they want,” because that doesn’t do anything. That doesn’t work.
Annalies Corbin: [00:29:33] It doesn’t help.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:29:33] No.
Annalies Corbin: [00:29:34] There’s no solution in that statement.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:29:37] Correct. And yet people feel like that’s a really pro-girl thing, “Go do and be anything you want.” I love the sentiment, but where are the skills and the competencies that are required for her to get there?
Annalies Corbin: [00:29:49] Absolutely. And again, that’s another thing that we see on a regular basis. And as we think about helping schools contemplate shifting program, which gets back to we can backfill skills gap, but recognizing the differences that we need to ensure that every learning opportunity is, in fact, an opportunity for all the participants.
Annalies Corbin: [00:30:17] And a lot of times what I see in program design, back to your point, is program design is inherently limiting in who can fully participate. If we don’t step back from it at that early design phase and recognize these components that this particular groups of learners or girls are going to function this way, and our boys are going to function this way, and we can actually design something that allows not only success for all, but collaborative success across that as well as we scaffold those skills.
Annalies Corbin: [00:30:48] So, as schools wrestle or communities wrestle with this, Lisa, and think about, sort of, the next iteration, because I do really appreciate. I am the mom of boys, and it is a really tough space. And there’s a lot of conversation over the last year, 18 months that needed to happen. But there’s also an inherent risk in that as well.
Annalies Corbin: [00:31:12] And so, as schools are contemplating and thinking about what to do with the collective sort of stuff that’s happening, what’s your best advice as they think about how to continue down the path that so many are on to make it possible to change the dynamic or the experience for girls and success in that sort of K-12 environment?
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:31:34] I think that boys and girls are both experiencing tremendous challenges. They just look different. And so, they need different things in the process. I get a lot of questions of like, “Oh, when are you making a ROX for boys?” And I’m like, “I’m not making ROX for boys.”
Annalies Corbin: [00:31:50] “I’m not. I’m not doing that.”
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:31:50] I need some boy to go do that, right. But I think that we can’t hold back the services, and programming, and experience that girls need because we haven’t quite found the equivalent yet for boys.
Annalies Corbin: [00:32:05] I’d agree, yeah.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:32:06] And I think when we think about what it is that boys and girls need separately in these academic spaces, we’re talking primarily about social and emotional learning competencies.
Annalies Corbin: [00:32:18] Exactly.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:32:19] We’re not talking about academic competence.
Annalies Corbin: [00:32:21] We’re not talking about content.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:32:22] No.
Annalies Corbin: [00:32:24] Absolutely.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:32:24] Because we know.
Annalies Corbin: [00:32:24] And people get wrapped up in content. Back to your very original statement, a school or an educational environment is all about that performance. And that’s really only a tiny piece of what we’re trying to accomplish.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:32:38] It’s a tiny piece of who we are too. And I think that the academic environment focuses exclusively on our academic performance with some spaces that we pay other attention to. But the social and emotional development of boys is something that is not cultivated for them either.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:33:00] And I think if we begin to pull these SCL competencies and align them with our academic competencies, we will do a great service to all of our students instead of seeing it as a secondary outcome or as something that we can’t devote resources toward. And that tends to be the issue that we face is we don’t have money to support that program, there’s not time in the day to do that. And I think what are we doing to our kids if we’re telling them that who they are and what they can become is secondary to how they perform on a particular test? That’s the challenge that I think we face.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:33:43] And in schools, it’s how do we create environments for boys to do stuff together too with effective role models, with people who are going to help them address some of the toxic masculinity things that are hurting boys right now? And how are we going to help girls develop their voice in a space that feels intimidating or could be overwhelming?
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:34:04] And I think that’s not all girls. Not all girls are challenged in that way, but many of them are. And according to our research, more than half of them are. And so, I think it’s thinking about the student support systems that accompany the academic support systems and how we begin to think about school counselors, people services, school social workers as ancillary and inextricably connected to the academic outcomes of our students is when we begin to shift to see that child as a whole child.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:34:41] And when we think about the ed reform initiatives that are coming and what people are paying attention to, there starts to be a movement towards paying attention to social and emotional learning. And I hope that continues because I think it’s our only hope to produce effective citizens who are fully actualizing their potential.
Annalies Corbin: [00:34:59] Yeah. And I would agree with you. And I hope that that trend continues. And I would like to to add to that hope that, I think, that one of the disconnects and one of the reasons we are now having these collective sets of conversations, and thank goodness that we’re bringing social and emotional pieces into it is, what is it that we are preparing students for?
Annalies Corbin: [00:35:23] And that in my mind and, certainly, that’s the primary piece of our work is to try and change the global conversation about what the heck are we doing and why because that has to be part of the shift to get to the point where everything that you’ve learned from your research and the programs that are being, actually, have a place to aim for. Because, quite frankly, academic success, content, knowledge in the 21st century is not what we should be doing.
Annalies Corbin: [00:35:59] And because it’s not what we should be doing, in my opinion, it’s not what we should be doing, it makes it really, really difficult for us to effectively address the everyday happening or experience of our participants. If at the end of the day, we are trying to create the next group of citizens through emerging workforce, and we stop thinking about K-12, and post-secondary, and business, and industry as insular stops along the way, that there is an integrated thing, we are literally growing our citizenry.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:36:35] What if we thought about our role as helping kids develop and produce a life that they love?
Annalies Corbin: [00:36:43] Exactly, passion, something.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:36:44] There’s got to be a place for that-
Annalies Corbin: [00:36:46] Believe in it, yeah.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:36:46] … in the sense that academic competence will get you so far, but how many people that you know are super smart and have these great high-powered jobs? And they are so miserable because they didn’t have the opportunity to connect or think about their values, their skills, their interests, their abilities, what they like to do, and how that can connect to the world of work.
Annalies Corbin: [00:37:11] Exactly.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:37:11] All they are is cultivated to a certain direction because you’re college material, or you’re good at math and science, so you should go this direction. And we miss out on the other aspects of this world and this life that make us full, capable, enjoyable, passionate, humans. And I think that when we look at success in the workplace, and happiness, and contentedness in this in the workplace, there’s a very low correlation to academic achievements.
Annalies Corbin: [00:37:45] Exactly.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:37:45] But that’s just like that’s just such a big squishy idea that’s really hard to get your head around, right?
Annalies Corbin: [00:37:52] Oh, Lisa. Oh, Lisa. It is a big, squishy idea. But, again, I think, worth the time and effort in the conversation if and only if it moves from conversation to action. And the flip side or the back piece of all of this, and I see this every single day, and had a beautiful conversation recently with a young, energetic, young woman who was explaining to me a bit of her academic journey and what she thought, back to our original premise here, about how girls think about themselves.
Annalies Corbin: [00:38:27] And she explained to me, because she has this amazing experience growing up and support in the world of arts, and music, and things like that. So, she came to her high school experience believing she was capable of, in her words, only being an artist, which is a fabulous piece of who she was. And because she was able to embrace, and opt in, and have some additional experiences, she found that she actually had a passion someplace completely different.
Annalies Corbin: [00:38:58] And at 17 years old, she’s articulating, “My path in my journey has shifted radically because I realized I was capable of doing these other things. And through being capable of doing those other things that I could find passion in doing them.” And that’s an incredible value add. But we don’t have a lot of opportunity to let students find those passions they don’t even know that they have. Our system, to your point, is not set up to allow for the opportunity to even try.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:39:30] No. And when I think about that from my own perspective is my parents didn’t go to college, and I grew up — So, when your parents don’t go to college, none of their friends went to college either. And so, you live an environment where you don’t really know anyone who went to college except your teachers, and your doctor, and that right stuff. But there was always this message of, “You’re going to go to college.”
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:39:54] And I think my my mom especially felt that for me because she was an elementary school secretary. And so, when you think about her in that environment, she’s one of a handful of people in that school who didn’t go to college. And even though she ran the whole school because that’s what those secretaries do, there was an element of being less than.
Annalies Corbin: [00:40:18] Exactly.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:40:19] Perceived as not quite.
Annalies Corbin: [00:40:21] Yeah.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:40:22] And so for me, it was “You’re going to college.” We had no idea how that was going to happen, or how we’re going to pay for that, or anything, and I’m still paying for that, but it was, “What do I go do and be?” And I was like, “You’d be a doctor,” right? And at that point, I said I was going to be a real doctor. PhD is a doctor, but it’s a different kind of doctor. But there was not any real passion around that. It was just like, that’s what I’m supposed to do because I get good grades, and I’m supposed to go to college.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:40:51] And it wasn’t until later in my undergraduate work, and then in my graduate work, that passion became a thing, and that you could actually think about how you can create and craft a life or a career space around things that are meaningful to the world that fire you up every day and that makes your work not feel like a job.
Annalies Corbin: [00:41:15] Right, right, absolutely.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:41:16] I feel really lucky to have that because I don’t think a lot of people do.
Annalies Corbin: [00:41:19] No. Well, I perceive that we all should. My husband actually tells me this all the time, “Annalies, the problem here is you just don’t get it. Most people don’t actually like what they do.” And I’m like, “I can’t even fathom that.” And it never occurred to me in my journey because I tried a little bit of everything. I don’t know if you were that kid, but, like you, those expectation,0 “You’re going to go off, you’re going to college, you’re going to do whatever this thing happens to be,” but I didn’t know what that was.
Annalies Corbin: [00:41:47] So, fortunately or unfortunately, it depends on your perspective, always a bit of a serial try everything. I think I had every major you could have in undergrad because I tried them all.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:41:57] Yes.
Annalies Corbin: [00:41:58] And so, it’s perplexing to me. And, again, my husband reminds me on a regular basis, “You just don’t get it that the majority of folks don’t actually go to work everyday and love what they do. They go to work every day because it’s something that they have to do.”
Annalies Corbin: [00:42:14] And that ethos is really important to me. And it is a foundational piece in our own programming at the PAST Foundation, if nothing else, that we provide an opportunity for folks to explore very, very early on, and to become confident, and strong, and self-aware within that space.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:42:37] And to not be limited in any way right by where they grew up, what they were exposed to, their gender, their race, their socioeconomic status, the narrative that puts them in a space that puts them on a certain trajectory that is often so limiting.
Annalies Corbin: [00:42:58] Absolutely.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:42:58] And I think, you know what, I do believe that you can’t be what you can’t see. But even sometimes when you see it, and you don’t think that you fit it, it’s still not seen as accessible to you because you also can’t do what you don’t know.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:43:14] And that’s the piece I always like to add to that. And we both utilize that frequently. And that’s really, really critical because even if, to your point, I can see on the outside someone who might look like me, but I can’t, on the inside, internalize that back to me, and to even know that it’s possible or some iteration, other iteration of it is possible, I will never get there.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:43:39] And I think one of the interesting stats that jumped out to me, and I bet it did for you too, is while we see this drop in confidence in girls, so 5th through 9th, there’s a tremendous drop, there’s a very similar drop in their perceptions of their abilities in Math and Science.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:43:57] What jumped out to me as different in this data is that while their confidence was declining in those areas, their interest was increasing. So, we’re doing something that is providing girls increased interest in STEM fields and careers in that space. But what’s still holding them back is their perceptions of their abilities in that space.
Annalies Corbin: [00:44:22] Absolutely.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:44:22] And so, when I’m thinking about career development and how we’re talking to students about the four-year course plans that they’re on, and in 8th grade, we’re setting kids up for a trajectory of what are the courses that they’re going to be able to take by the time that they’re seniors, and if we see that interest is there, but the confidence is dwindling, we have a responsibility to address that because she’ll opt out.
Annalies Corbin: [00:44:52] She will opt out almost every single time. It’s socially and internally easier to opt out. And we have to be mindful of that. Absolutely. You know, Lisa, I want to thank you very much for the work that you do, first and foremost, and the contribution that it’s making to our global community as we all wrestle with how to do a better job of providing opportunity for amazing piece of our population.
Annalies Corbin: [00:45:25] I always try to help folks and schools that are wrestling with, “What do we really do in the space?” And as we think about our redesign, and do we really need to step back and take the time, and, quite frankly, the expense because it always boils down to money when we’re dealing with schools and we understand that. So, is it worth the time and the expense to step back and think about these pieces as we design the next thing?
Annalies Corbin: [00:45:50] And I think, if nothing else, the basic global economy should be the factor if it can’t wrestle with the other pieces. That 50% of our planet or more is at stake and a contribution to our global economy and society as part of this journey.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:46:07] Absolutely. And if we’re not having the full investment of girls, and their voices, and opinions, part of that narrative, we’re missing out profoundly on what can happen and what this world can be if all the girls were actualizing their potential.
Annalies Corbin: [00:46:26] Yeah, just think. Think of it. It’s awing, right.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:46:30] Yeah, it’s my daily motivator.
Annalies Corbin: [00:46:33] It gives you goosebumps, absolutely. There’s so much potential.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:46:35] Absolutely.
Annalies Corbin: [00:46:36] It’s astounding.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:46:36] And it’s like our job to pull that out. I feel like because we know that this stuff is happening, we now have a responsibility to shift the experience, and to shift the culture, and to make a long-standing individual group and societal impact for girls.
Annalies Corbin: [00:46:55] Absolutely. Absolutely. And so, on that, I encourage all of our listeners to think about and bring ROX to your community. We’ll have resources available for you to make it easy for you to reach out. There are very few programs with so much impact. So, again, Lisa, thank you so much for joining us today.
Dr. Lisa Hinkelman: [00:47:12] Thank you so much for having me.